Former Sherman Mayor Julie Ellis Starr died Monday

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
Linda Ashby swore in Julie Starr as mayor, Charley Ellis, Jr. as councilmember, and Nancy Kirkpatrick as councilmember in 2003.

Three term Sherman Mayor Julie Ellis Starr, 72, died Monday. Starr served on the City Council for 14 years including two terms as deputy mayor and three as mayor. 

A fifth-generation Shermanite, Starr attended local schools and received both her bachelor's and master's degrees from Austin College. She owned a small business in Sherman for several years and worked as a stockbroker for A.G. Edwards.

In 1993, Starr became involved in health care, developing a home health company and later worked as director of business development and marketing for Community Medical Center.

Her alma mater remembered her in a statement Tuesday.

“As a 1970 graduate of Austin College, Julie Ellis Starr represented us well in the local community throughout the intervening years. She was a dynamic personality and her leadership and enthusiasm during her service as mayor and on City Council were devoted toward the best for her city. She was also a champion for arts organizations based at Austin College and beyond. The College community is proud of her service, and we offer our deep sympathies to her family at this time.” said Austin College Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Lynn Zander Womble.

Julie Ellis Starr sits at her spot marked mayor at the Sherman City Council Chambers.

Starr's long-time friend Lana Garcia said of Starr, "She was truly an original."

The two met in 1983 when the Garcias moved to Sherman. Lana Garcia stopped in to get a gift for her husband, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Bert Garcia, at Starr's shop, "A Designing Woman." 

"We chatted for a while, and she later told me that her first thought was "I could never be friends with such a little piece of fluff!!" and I responded that my original thought was "What a stuck up woman!"" Garcia said in an email. "Obviously, we changed our minds and were truly sisters from another mother for almost 40 years.

"I have often said that Julie was a high maintenance woman and a high maintenance friend, but that was the joy and the fun of her. It took a lot to be her friend, but it was worth every bit of the effort."

Julie Ellis Starr sits with Sherman City Council members John Markl, Larry Morris, Rita Holcomb and Orvie Lee Cantrell.

Starr had a laugh that could fill the Sherman City Council chamber and be heard all along the square in Sherman. She also had a sense of style that could put many runway models to shame. No matter the occasion from dirty turning to City Council meeting to anything else, Mayor Starr was generally the best dressed woman present.   

If there were one thing really remarkable thing about Starr as mayor many people said this week, it was that she loved Sherman. She loved working for the people of Sherman to make it a better place said her daughter Virginia Starr Grubbs this week. 

Lana Garcia said one of Starr's brightest accomplishments was the renovation of the Kidd-Key Auditorium.

 "She reached out to Sherman native Buck Owens, and he agreed to give a concert in the then shell of an auditorium and donate the proceeds to the renovation effort," she said. "The next fall he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and actually mentioned Sherman in his acceptance speech. Julie sent him flowers."

"In 2005, She worked closely with Governor Rick Perry to persuade Tyson Foods to open a 1,600-employee plant in the city" her family said in an obituary. She was also instrumental in the opening of the Texoma Area Solid Waste Authority.  

Additionally, she was the first female president of Texoma Council of Governments, . 

Julie Ellis Starr gives the keys to the city to Sherman native Buck Owens.

The man who stopped her last attempt at reclaiming the mayor's post in Sherman, current Grayson County Judge Bill Magers, remembered her in a statement on Wednesday.

"Angela and I were saddened to learn of Mayor Starr's passing Mayor Starr's years of service and personal sacrifice left her indelible mark on the community she loved. While her accomplishments were many, I know she was honored by her critical role in bringing Tyson to Sherman. Most importantly, she loved her family, was a proud and giving wife and mother," he said. 

Starr was involved in charitable and community causes in the area by holding leadership roles in the Texas Association for Symphony Orchestras, Red River Symphony Guild, American Cancer Society, Women's Crisis Center, Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of North Texas and the Texoma Charity Golf Classic. She was also a member of the International Women's Club.

Julie Ellis Starr with then Texas Governor Rick Perry.